We’re wrapping things up with Nina Cornett who has given me, and hopefully you, a greater insight into the issue of timber theft in the U.S. I encourage everyone to review her websites www.ecooutpost.org and www.timbertheft.org and sign up for her “infrequent” (her promise) newsletters.
Q: My final question has to be, “Now what?” What are you thinking of for the future?
Well, I have to say that now that I learned from you that the Lacey Act can be used for domestic timber theft, I plan to get that word out to as many victims as I can. Your blog on that Northwest indictment has given me a whole new direction and a fresh burst of energy.
As you know, we made timber theft one of the major projects of a nonprofit we sit on the Board of, and also set up a website devoted strictly to timber theft. Those websites are www.ecooutpost.org and www.timbertheft.org respectively. In addition, we developed a 40-page Guide for Timber Theft Victims that we provide free to any interested party, and in which we share the stories of other timber theft victims and urge people to take action if their timber is stolen. We also put out, very infrequently, a newsletter.
Aside from that, the next concrete step may come from working with the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission (EQC). About three years ago, I had the opportunity to address a score or so of Kentucky legislators at a hearing, which led to an invitation to speak to the Commission. One of the EQC members might, I believe, been a timber theft victim himself. At any rate, the Commission took the problem seriously and passed a resolution in favor of stronger means of curtailing timber theft in Kentucky which they sent to the Legislature.
Of course, as I already told you, we haven’t yet succeeded in getting a bill, or even a Legislative Task Force established. So the EQC recently decided to review that Resolution. At a meeting last month, I spoke to them again, along with the head of the Kentucky Forestry Division, the head of the Kentucky Forest Industries Association (an industry lobbying group), and the past president of the Kentucky Woodland Owners Association.
As a result of that meeting, the Commission decided that they needed to bulk up the Resolution. They have created a proposed new resolution which last week went to Secretary Peters, who heads the Kentucky Cabinet for Environmental and Natural Resources, for signature after which it will be presented to the Legislature. Updates on the progress of the Resolution will be on my website. I’m very pleased to say that the resolution recommends something like the South Carolina model – a professional investigative group within the Kentucky Forestry Division.
At the meeting, I learned that the Legislature had scheduled a meeting of an Interim Joint Committee somewhat like the one three years ago to discuss timber theft. I don’t know if that will translate into action, but that’s an encouraging step.
I also hope to persuade the Kentucky Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission that failure by Kentucky to prosecute timber theft is, in fact, a major gap in access to justice for the victims, and to enlist their support to help move legislation along.
Beyond that, we obviously hope to persuade the Legislature to move along on legislation that will make effective timber theft prosecutions more likely in Kentucky.
Meanwhile, once our own court case is over, I hope to take what I’ve learned on this subject, put together a book about timber theft, and find a publisher.
Reposted on June 12.